Why Squarespace Is the Best Blogging Platform for Authors and Creatives

Why Squarespace Is the Best Blogging Platform for Authors and Creatives

by Jennie Jerome

In a nutshell: Squarespace is the best blog platform for authors and creatives because it combines the best of what WordPress.com and WordPress.org have to offer, while mitigating the downsides of both.

First, some terminology:squarespace

A blogging platform is the software or service that turns a website into a functioning blog. Blogs are different from websites in that they are a specific form of content management system that generates posts as well as pages. On a blog, pages are the stagnant information that doesn’t change (think About Us, Contact Us, etc.), while posts are constantly created and changing.

Worpress.com, WordPress.org,and Squarespace are all blogging platforms. So what specifically makes Squarespace so much better? Its eCommerce abilities and cost.

eCommerce

If you want to sell anything on your site, it needs to have eCommerce capability. Technically, WordPress.com does have this ability, but it only offers two options: Ecwid and Shopify – and no customization for the way you want your store to look and feel.

WordPress.org offers many options through various widgets, but because it is an open source platform (meaning anyone can customize and modify it to create their own templates and widgets), you have to spend a lot of time searching through what’s available and reading reviews to see what’s worth it and what’s not. Many of the worthwhile widgets also mean an additional cost.

Squarespace, on the other hand, offers a variety of eCommerce options that seamlessly integrate with their software and make it easy to create a beautiful, clean store, as well as manage payments, sales, tax, and shipping. All you have to do is click the button, drag, and drop. Boom. Done.

Cost

This may seem a bit counterintuitive, given that Squarespace is the only one of the three platforms that does not offer a free version. That being said, is free really free? Take a look at this graphic Raelene Wilson uses in her post “WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com: A Definitive Guide For 2014” (http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/wordpress-org-vs-wordpress-com-a-definitive-guide-for-2014/)

wordpress-cost-comparisonNote: Wordpess.org is on the left and WordPress.com is on the right.

More specifically, WordPress.com offers three plans:

  1. Basic – Free – Includes free blog, WordPress.com address, basic customization, no premium themes included, no eCommerce, no video storage, 3 GB of space, may show ads, community support.
  2. Premium – $99/year – free blog, a custom domain, advanced customization, no premium themes included, no eCommerce, store dozens of videos, 13 GB of space, no ads, direct email support.
  3. Business – $299/year – free blog, a custom domain, advanced customization, 50+ premium themes included, eCommerce, store unlimited videos, unlimited space, no ads, live chat support.

Note: ONLY the business plan allows you to utilize Google Analytics so you can track your visitors – all the others require you to use WordPress.com’s analytic software. In some cases this ok, but if you are running any type of AdWords campaign on your site, you will not be able to track conversions.

Also, you cannot integrate MailChimp or any other email list management software with WordPress.com. For authors, building an email list is VERY important because it gives us access to people who want to know what we have to say and probably want to buy our books, so lack of this option is a major drawback.

There are also some additional costs to WordPress.com if you want to make any upgrades or changes:

  • Custom design – $30 per blog, per year
  • Guided transfer to a self-hosted WordPress.org site – $129 per blog
  • Premium themes – One-off $20 fee, or $120 per year for unlimited themes
  • Site redirect – $13 per blog, per year
  • VideoPress – $60 per blog, per year

As you can see, free can get pretty expensive with WordPress.com.

As for WordPress.org, the biggest problem is finding quality and not getting overwhelmed. As I mentioned before, there are a TON of options with WordPress.org. If you want a site that is extremely robust and almost totally customized, this is definitely the way to go.

However, as authors, we probably don’t need this level of customization; we just need something that looks professional, has a good shopping cart, and allows us to build our audience.

Although there are some free WordPress.org templates out there, most custom themes cost money – anywhere from $49 to several hundred dollars. Be aware if you choose an inexpensive custom theme that while WordPress.org is constantly updating its security and making changes, the designers from whom you purchase your theme have no obligation to keep up their themes in response to these updates. That means that if WordPress.org makes a change that is incompatible with your theme, you will be responsible for adapting the theme and fixing any problems, or your site may not work.

Unless you are fairly tech savvy or willing to invest many hours learning how to set up WordPress templates, manage widgets and plugins, and keep up with maintenance, you will have to hire a designer and hosting company. Designers are expensive and will cost you from $500 to $10,000, depending on their skill level and the complexity of your site.

All in all, WordPress.org will cost a minimum of $139 per year up to several thousand. In some cases, it may be worth it to you. If not, then there is Squarespace.

Squarespace offers three plans:

  1. Personal – $8 per month for an annual plan (or $10 if you are paying month-to-month)
  • 20 Pages, Galleries, and Blogs with Unlimited Bandwidth, Unlimited Storage, and 2 Contributors
  • Fully Integrated E-Commerce
  • Sell 1 Product & Accept Donations
  • Mobile Website and Store
  • Custom Domain
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  1. Professional – $16 per month for an annual plan (or $20 if you are paying month-to-month)
  • Unlimited Pages, Galleries, and Blogs, with Unlimited Storage, Bandwidth, and Contributors
  • Fully Integrated E-Commerce
  • Sell up to 20 Products
  • Developer Platform
  • Mobile Website and Store
  • Custom Domain
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  1. Business – $24 per month for an annual plan (or $30 if you are paying month-to-month)
  • Unlimited Pages, Galleries, and Blogs, with Unlimited Storage, Bandwidth, and Contributors
  • Fully Integrated E-Commerce
  • Sell Unlimited Products
  • Real-Time Carrier Shipping
  • Label Printing via ShipStation
  • Integrated Accounting by Xero
  • Developer Platform
  • Mobile Website and Store
  • Custom Domain
  • 24/7 Customer Support

In addition to the month-to-month payment option, Squarespace is a closed platform, so it assumes all responsibility for making certain your site is still operational and functioning, regardless of the security updates and changes they make. Staff also commits to responding to support requests within an hour, regardless of what time of day or night it is. Lastly, Squarespace seamlessly integrates with both Google Analytics and MailChimp – once again, all you have to do is click a button, and everything is done for you.

All in all, Squarespace will cost you somewhere between $96 and $360 per year and provide everything you need to create an elegant, functional, and successful site. Sounds like a bargain to me.

______________________
Jennie Jerome is a marketing consultant and business coach specializing in strategy and Kalenegotiations. Her business is focused around determining where you are, where you want to be, and how you are going to get there. She is in the process of launching a new and expanded website, but you can connect with her here, or meet her in person at the Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, organized by Laura Orsini. Jennie is a reoccurring guest blogger and posts here the 5th of every month. Please feel free to submit questions or blog ideas in the comments sections of her posts. Happy writing!

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3 Responses to Why Squarespace Is the Best Blogging Platform for Authors and Creatives

  1. Liz Marshall says:

    Very cool breakdown, thank you Jennie! I think I’ll give Squarespace a try, as I can’t make heads or tails of WordPress – and, of course, if I have to hire someone to help me, the costs can skyrocket.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stuart says:

    Great article! Which squarepace templates would you consider best for an author platform? For blogging, adding multimedia and building a list. Thanks Jennie!

    Liked by 1 person

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